What next for KQ Liverpool after Investment Zones?

– What will Liverpool look like post Investment Zone funding?

– Are Investment Zones a one off or is this an opportunity to build on what could be achieved in the next five years? 



In the Spring Budget, a refocused Investment Zone programme was announced that will see the creation of 12 Investment Zones across the UK. This includes a health and life sciences Investment Zone in Liverpool City Region, with a package of £80m funding over the next five years. 

With a general election upcoming and Investment Zone delivery due to commence in April next year, Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) held a roundtable with some of its key innovation district stakeholders, to consider what’s next for KQ Liverpool and Liverpool City Region in the years to come. 

So what does the future look like for KQ Liverpool, the City and the City Region? The below write-up shares an insight into some of the main discussion points and priorities covered during the event, along with some recommendations, shared visions and overarching sentiments for the future.

Asset-based clusters

Following an initial welcome by KQ Liverpool CEO, Colin Sinclair, who Chaired the debate, then opened the discussion to the room, starting with a question around asset-based cluster development and why it is important to the future development of Liverpool City Region. 

In response, Professor Matt Reed, Strategic Director of the University of Liverpool’s Materials Innovation Factory, started by saying: “Asset based clusters can have a powerful effect. There is evidence to prove that organically grouped people and high density clustering of knowledge assets drives the economy. I would also suggest that we all need to look granularly at our growth trajectory and engage more with the outside world.”

Professor Janet Hemmingway, Founding Director of iiCON, agreed by saying: “We have got the set-up to be a global power, thanks to our existing industry, academia and NHS supercluster. This is starting to work and the consortium’s effort is delivering real life impact and leveraging new products.” She advised that: “We are still too academic in our approach however, and we need to strengthen our industrial base to leverage further activities in exporting and high value jobs for LCR.”

Civic Data

Following on from this, the conversation turned to why civic data and mental health is so important to inclusive innovation, and how local projects in this field can create global collaborations and encourage new occupiers to cluster in KQ Liverpool.

Professor Iain Buchan, Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for Innovation at University of Liverpool, said: “There is a social impact culture in Liverpool where people swarm if they believe in what they are doing. The Covid-19 pandemic saw people put organisational barriers aside and share data for the greater good. Liverpool gets the job done, and like tonight, gets people in the room who can make things happen.”

Professor Raphaela Kane, Pro Vice Chancellor HEA (Faculty of Health) at Liverpool John Moores University, added: “The healthcare workforce needs to ensure they have the right skills for the future and we need to think beyond traditional silos for healthcare delivery. A ‘grow our own’ philosophy will make a significant local impact for employment and health outcomes, as well as attracting the right people in.”

Global reach and scale

The next topic discussed was in relation to ensuring that the projects being brought forward under the Investment Zone also have a global reach and impact. 

Providing this international viewpoint was Professor David Lalloo, Director at LSTM, who explained: “LSTM’s focus is predominantly outside of the UK, but its work is relevant to the UK. We are seeing a huge change in countries becoming more wealthy thanks to an explosion of innovation. We need a long term strategy, as funding for global health is changing, and learn from global best practice.”

Dr Carol Costello, Chair of KQ Liverpool and Director of People and Services at the University of Liverpool, added: “We have a network of alumni around the world which provides a huge database that we don’t use as much as we should. We need to think more practically and maximise where there are interrelations that we can join up and benefit from.”

With regards to inward investment, Professor Mark Power, Chair of Sciontec Developments Limited, and Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Liverpool John Moores University, explained: “We don’t have sufficient large scale employers in LCR, but we do have a huge talent pipeline that has business ideas, but these will only form part of the supply chain. We need to identify where there is space for the bigger organisations to come in, as well as growing existing KQ Liverpool based companies. The challenge is selling the LCR lifestyle and incubation space, as we have the ambition to do it, so collectively we can offer a menu of opportunities.”

Commercial investment

Adding to the discussions regarding work space provision and commercial investment into LCR, Andrew Lewis, incoming Chair of KQ Liverpool and Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, said: “I have been struck by the number of assets in Liverpool City Region, and the concentration of them in KQ Liverpool. We have a big obligation to master plan the estate, as space is precious and not surplus. The Investment Zone has taken opportunities locally and created a network of capabilities which is quite profound, and will attract further attention in the coming years.

“Hosting Eurovision demonstrated how Liverpool’s international brand is real and not just a perception. Referring to social impact, the role of The Pandemic Institute and businesses being attracted here is great, and we’re also attracting students and educating them who will then go into the world of work. It is important but there are massive shortages. 

“We have excelled on the academic side, and we now need to nurture commercial indigenous growth from academics and students creating new businesses, and also attracting inward investment. LCC is now making stronger capabilities and connections with the Combined Authorities, creating a stronger ‘to do’ list. It is great to hear the optimism in the room.”

National outlook

Giving a wider view of Liverpool City Region’s capabilities was Sean Davis, FD Investments at Bruntwood, who said: “From a national perspective, regeneration and the growth of clusters doesn’t happen overnight. Liverpool has to identify its unique set of strengths, which it is already doing, but also needs to try and get investment out of the golden triangle and develop stronger relationships.”

Sally Bloor, Head of Marketing and Communications at Sciontec, agreed and added: “We’re currently aware of a big lab space enquiry and are working on a bespoke pack for this. I think we’re three quarters of the way there in attracting large occupiers, but there is more to be done to refine the micro detail of our offer, in terms of available buildings, their specific location, plus access to R&D and talent. We have worked closely with Growth Platform and have linked up with the KQ Liverpool based Universities to make stronger messaging which is helping. Similarly with attracting Cashplus Bank, colleagues from LJMU, UoL, and the City Council helped pitch directly to them, so I think this type of leveraging should be undertaken more often.”

Communication, collaboration and skills

Further to Sally’s recommendation to refine our offer, Charlie Whitford, Director of Regional Strategy & Engagement at The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), echoed this sentiment by saying: “We need to keep the messaging simple when we’re communicating the story of superclusters. The Investment Zone is commendable, with the capabilities coming together for the greater good, which is greater than the individual parts.”

He also discussed the role of local infrastructure by saying: “People who are looking to relocate place a key focus on the cultural environment in which they’re going to work. As such, the transport in LCR needs to be better, because the city will become clogged if we continue to expand at the same pace. We’re also experiencing a ‘tale of two cities’, as the north of Liverpool needs more development, and we need a positive approach to not being too localised with politics.”

The MTC is a High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC), whose Digital Manufacturing Accelerator is located within Liverpool Science Park (LSP). Another HVMC Centre based at LSP is CPI, and their Strategic Partnerships Manager for the North West, Damian Mohammed, added: “The key challenge we are solving is leveraging public funding to unlock private investment, to ensure projects have longevity and legacy. Having both a commercial focus with social impact makes a real difference, ensuring inclusive innovation. We are working with academic, industry and government-funded stakeholders in the region to help deliver this. We do, however, need to consider how the new Investment Zone projects will find the talent needed to deliver their impact, and we are working with the region to identify the skills of the future. We need to start working with schools, colleges and universities now, to develop STEM skills for the next 5-10 years.”

Workspaces of the future

Aligned with the future vision theme, Leanne Katsande, Head of Commercial at Sciontec, shared how: “Space requirements have gone full circle, and lab occupier demand has grown significantly. Flexibility is essential and all of our developments will be futureproofed for occupiers so we can accommodate ongoing enquiries.”

Architectural practice, Fairhursts Design Group, have been behind some of the largest and most innovative lab schemes in the UK. When asked about how KQ Liverpool could differentiate and future proof new lab schemes, Laura Sherliker, Director at The Fairhursts Design Group, explained: “Labs requirements are ever changing, although building stock is finite. We need to make buildings not monuments, and civic architecture needs to be for locals and not contain any social barriers. For this, we must link up with schools and other groups in the community. Having the right strategy and vision is so important, so we need to consider how buildings will change in the next 5-10 years. I think smaller, tech enabled labs will be more in demand, although these use a lot of energy, so we need to set a sustainability agenda now and continuously strive for better standards.”

Rob Hopkins, Director at AHR (who was the lead architect when designing The Spine in Paddington Village), offered an additional view point, saying: “With regards to innovative workspaces of the future, we can no longer detach living and work spaces. We need to have the confidence to bring together both elements at Paddington Village, and we have a great opportunity to do it first and to do it best. What has been done at The Spine can be done with living spaces, as well as other workspaces.” He also added: “KQ Liverpool has the ability to bring all of the right ingredients together. Occupiers want the greatest place and environment for their workforce to thrive. We should think cleverly about existing spaces too and use what we’ve got.”

Living labs

Lorna Green, CEO of LYVA Labs explained that: “We have already seen the benefits of flexible work space and connectivity for our own company, and as a result of the investment we’re putting into creating new companies in the region, they will need somewhere to locate. The LCR Investment Zone means that we can run this additional accelerator space.”

She also set an interesting challenge for participants to consider. “After Investment Zones, I’d like to turn LCR into a living lab for healthcare. We can’t underestimate the importance of wrap-around support for startups, and we have got so many of the other building blocks already, like knowledge assets, data, and training. Through this support, businesses can then turn into innovators and scale.”

“Bring it on!” was the immediate response from Jan Ledward, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “A living lab would provide a combination of mental and physical health solutions within a care environment. We should also create doctors of the future who have a wider view of conditions, although we really need these skills now, not 5 years in the future.”

Partnerships and talent retention

Professor Tom Solomon, Director of The Pandemic Institute, discussed the benefits of partnerships, by saying: “I’d like to see more conversations about commerce, not academia, although we have a strength in joining them up through The Pandemic Institute, the city council and higher education partners. International partners have also been built up over many years and a recent visit to Bangalore has led to an exciting new partnership, but there were no council or commercial delegates on the trip, which I think was a missed opportunity.”

Linking back to Professor Mark Power’s point, Tom added: “Big companies have looked at locating within LCR, but they didn’t actually land here. We should have a drive to try and build new facilities, like our proposed pandemic preparedness and response laboratories, so that we can attract and accommodate these larger enquiries.”

Addressing the group next from KQ Liverpool’s perspective, was Rachael Stevens, Head of Partnerships and External Relations, who said: “The Investment Zone presents an opportunity for projects to happen, but we need to focus on bringing a spatial focus together to promote it externally. We can also use the Investment Zone as a way to attract graduate talent, but we need skills and mid management roles for the 25-40 year old workforce, as this is where we are losing people to other cities.”

Optimism for the future

To summarise the Roundtable, Andrew Lewis, incoming Chair of KQ Liverpool, said: “I’d like to end on a note of optimism and self confidence about our future. We’re all aware of the gaps we’re facing and when we put the table of points together, we get a platform for growth. Where we are now is incredibly powerful. We’ve got a common strategy, a fantastic global brand and have a real focus on what we’re good at. We should never be complacent, but we’ll succeed with partnership working. I think we should also look at Greater Manchester as a coalition opportunity rather than a competitor, and similarly with London.”

Colin Sinclair concluded: “This is just the start. I’ve seen massive change already since we created the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool Innovation District in 2016 and I know this progress will continue, thanks to the people in this room and our wider partnerships.”

KQ Startup launched to support budding entrepreneurs

The new programme will support the growing number of startups and spin-outs created within the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) innovation district.

Launched today at Liverpool Science Park, KQ Startup is the latest addition to KQ Liverpool’s suite of Innovation and Growth Services, having been specifically designed to help budding entrepreneurs navigate through the early stages of their business journey.

The free to access programme will ensure eligible startups and spin-outs are connected directly with the right people, places and spaces needed to launch successfully in the market, and avoid critical stumbling blocks. 

Colin Sinclair, CEO of KQ Liverpool, said:

“By removing barriers to entry, we can boost the number of new local founders, as well as the success rate of existing startups, which in turn will add to the economic prosperity of our innovation district.

“With world-leading academic institutions and an established culture of entrepreneurialism within our innovation district, KQ Startup will ensure that the groundbreaking ideas and creative research being uncovered on our doorstep can succeed commercially and develop into thriving, scaling businesses.”

KQ Startup has enlisted the support of eight local organisations, who will be offering programme participants complimentary access to a range of bespoke advice and guidance. This includes one to one consultations, digital resources and expert masterclasses across the fields of compliance, marketing, banking and finance, and intellectual property, as well as providing discounted workspaces and networking opportunities. 

The eight KQ Startup Expert Advisors are Dearbridge, List & Found, Lloyds Bank, Marks & Clerk, Moore Media, Sciontec, Sedulo and Typocom.

Rachael Stevens, Head of Partnerships and External Relations at KQ Liverpool, added:

“Navigating the red tape around starting a new business can be both daunting and distracting from the excitement of launching a new product or service. 

“Through KQ Startup, we want to simplify this process and take some of the burden away from founders, therefore enabling business owners to focus on building their teams, attract customers and grow their business.”

KQ Liverpool will also be signposting KQ Startup participants to a number of other local organisations who provide complimentary support to entrepreneurs and SME leaders in the Liverpool City Region. This includes The Brett Centre for Entrepreneurship, The Women’s Organisation, Growth Platform, LYVA Labs, River Capital and the LCR Finance Hub. 

Through collaboration, partnerships and facilitated introductions, KQ Liverpool hopes to engage with around 20 KQ Startup participants across the next 12 months, and deliver new job opportunities, grow the dynamic business community and provide support for all, in line with their inclusive innovation agenda.

To find out more about the KQ Startup programme, Expert Advisors and proven success stories, please download the KQ Startup brochure here.

iiCON strengthens team following ongoing growth

iiCON, led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), is comprised of partners Unilever, Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust, University of Liverpool, LifeArc, Evotec, and Infex Therapeutics.

The c£250 million programme brings together industry, academia, and clinicians to accelerate the discovery, development and deployment of new treatments and innovations– saving and improving millions of lives globally through collaborative innovation.

Following the ongoing growth of the programme, iiCON has appointed a new Senior Programme Manager, Gillian Kyalo, who works closely with iiCON’s founding Director Professor Janet Hemingway to oversee and support the smooth running of the programme. Gillian brings over 20 years’ experience managing complex global International Public Health projects for international consortia and organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, UK Research Councils, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The consortium has also welcomed a new Business Development Manager, Dr Lizzie Crawford, who will focus on fostering strategic relationships and driving commercial partnerships for translational research. Lizzie will work with iiCON’s business development team to engage with companies looking to connect into iiCON’s platforms to support their research and development needs.

With a strong scientific background as a pharmacologist and a Ph.D in molecular and cell biology, Lizzie also has experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She spent nine years in technology transfer at the University of Manchester playing a pivotal role in supporting translational research, facilitating licence negotiations and establishing successful spin-out companies. Her expertise spans the full lifecycle of research projects from inception to licence agreements within the complex landscape of academia-industry collaborations. Lizzie is also the founder of a digital health spin out company, with experience across all aspects of the start-up process, including business planning, fundraising, partnership development and regulatory planning, providing a solid understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

iiCON has also strengthened its core team, welcoming a new finance manager, Lauren Thistlethwaite; programme manager Rose Lopeman; project administrators, Amy Collins, and Alexandra Pendleton; data analyst Jolene Dunlop, and senior finance business partner Laura Carney, to support operational activity across the dynamic consortium, which operates across ten platforms of activity.

Professor Janet Hemingway, founding Director of iiCON, said:

“We’re very pleased to have welcomed a number of new faces to the iiCON team, each one bringing particular skills and expertise.

“As iiCON continues to attract investment and expand activity across our platforms, the complementary experience and specialist sector knowledge within our team means we are well equipped to continue to develop and support long-lasting strategic commercial partnerships; collaborating effectively with diverse stakeholder groups to drive forward the programme – enabling world-leading infection R&D.”

Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre opens to patients

Thousands set to benefit from faster access to vital NHS tests as new Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre opens to patients

People in Liverpool will now benefit from faster access to vital tests and scans for a wide range of health conditions, with the opening of a new NHS community diagnostic centre on the Paddington Village development in Edge Hill.

The new Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre offers tests to people referred by health professionals to check for a wide range of conditions including musculoskeletal problems, gastrointestinal conditions, lung conditions and cancer. It will help them get a confirmed diagnosis so they can begin the treatment they need or to get the all-clear, putting their minds at rest.

The centre is just the first phase of a wider development transforming what was previously the privately-run Rutherford Cancer Centre North West into a first-class NHS facility for the people of Cheshire and Merseyside. In a landmark agreement in March 2023, The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust acquired the building on behalf of the NHS in our region.

Initially, Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre will offer MRI and ultrasound scans as well as blood tests (phlebotomy). That will extend to CT scans from the autumn once a new scanner has been installed and commissioned. Future phases will see it expand with additional services, further boosting NHS diagnostic capacity in response to local demand.

Community diagnostic centres (CDCs) provide the NHS with additional capacity to carry out vital tests and scans in locations away from the pressures of a busy acute hospital providing emergency care.

Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre is the eighth CDC to open in Cheshire and Merseyside, which has been at the vanguard of rolling out the new centres as part of a national NHS England programme supported by government funding.

St Helens was the first CDC to open nationally, closely followed by Clatterbridge Diagnostics in Wirral. Cheshire and Merseyside now has CDCs in Ellesmere Port, Liverpool Women’s, Northwich, Southport and Halton, with two more on the way: one in Congleton and one at Shopping City in Runcorn.

Together, the new CDCs in Cheshire and Merseyside have already delivered 250,000 additional tests and scans for the NHS than would have been possible without them – a figure that will rise to 318,000 in 2023/24. That’s important because demand has grown year on year.

The number of diagnostic tests performed now is double what it was five years ago, with more than 100,000 carried out each month in Cheshire and Merseyside and demand keeps rising. It means CDCs are an essential tool in cutting waiting times and supporting earlier, faster diagnosis. 

Dr Liz Bishop, Chief Executive of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust and Senior Responsible Officer for Diagnostics in Cheshire and Merseyside, said: 

“People in Liverpool are more likely to experience ill health than the national average so it’s particularly important that they can get the tests they need when symptoms develop.

“Faster and earlier access to tests thanks to community diagnostic centres like this will mean people with potentially serious conditions – and those living with pain or other symptoms – can get diagnosed and start treatment more quickly, giving them a better quality of life and a better chance of a successful outcome.

“Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre will help people with many different kinds of health conditions and we feel a real responsibility as a leading specialist trust to develop services like this that support the wider NHS and the communities we serve across Cheshire and Merseyside.”

Dr Michael Gregory, Regional Medical Director at NHS England – North West, said:

“We know that rapid diagnosis saves lives, and the opening of this new facility at the Paddington Village will mean thousands more patients can get life-saving tests, checks and scans in the heart of the community, without having to travel to the hospital.

“This new community diagnostics centre will help address disparities in health within the wider community and decrease the demand for referrals and hospital visits, easing the pressure on hospital facilities.

“It is another fantastic step to ensure that the NHS is making a positive difference to the way the people of Liverpool and beyond receive care.”

Professor Rowan Pritchard Jones, Medical Director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said:

“We are one of the few health systems in the country to have a dedicated programme to improve diagnostics and we welcome the opening of this additional Community Diagnostics Centre for Cheshire and Merseyside as part of that work, helping us to give patients much quicker access to the tests and scans they need. We know that diagnosing patients as soon as possible can lead to better treatment outcomes, which is why centres like this one in Paddington Village are so important.”

Tracey Cole, Diagnostics Programme Director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said:

“Excellent healthcare can only be provided once a patient has a diagnosis. Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre will help ensure that everyone in Cheshire and Merseyside has fast access to the tests they need in a setting local to them. Paddington Community Diagnostic Centre will see all types of patients, not just those who could have cancer. We want patients who are offered an appointment to take up their offer so that we can either rule out anything to be concerned about or be offered treatment if it is required.”

About The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s leading cancer centres, serving a population of 2.4m in Cheshire & Merseyside and surrounding areas including the Isle of Man and parts of Lancashire.

We provide highly-specialist services including pioneering chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy. Our unique networked model includes three Clatterbridge Cancer Centres (Liverpool, Wirral and Aintree), Clatterbridge clinics in other hospitals, and our multi-award-winning Clatterbridge in the Community service treating patients at home.

Our flagship Liverpool hospital opened in June 2020 with state-of-the-art facilities including 110 individual inpatient rooms, stem cell transplant, radiology, a Teenage & Young Adult Unit, clinical therapies, and a wide range of cancer information and support.

We are also a leading research centre with an extensive portfolio of clinical trials including early phase and first-in-human (Phase 1). We are part of Liverpool ECMC (experimental cancer medicine centre), a Biomedical Research Centre with The Royal Marsden, and Liverpool CRF (clinical research facility).

About CDCs in Cheshire and Merseyside

Eight community diagnostic centres (CDCs) have now opened in Cheshire and Merseyside since the programme launched in 2021:

  • Ellesmere Port – Ellesmere Port Hospital (run by Countess of Chester Hospital)
  • Liverpool – Liverpool Women’s Hospital (run by Liverpool Women’s)
  • Northwich – Victoria Infirmary (run by Mid Cheshire Hospitals)
  • Paddington – Paddington Village (run by The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre)
  • Runcorn – Halton Hospital (run by Warrington and Halton Hospitals)
  • Southport – Southport Hospital (run by Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals)
  • St Helens – St Helens Hospital (run by Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals)
  • Wirral – Clatterbridge (run by a partnership between The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and Wirral University Teaching Hospital)

Two more are due to open by the end of 2023/24: one in Congleton and one at Shopping City in Runcorn.

LCR announced as the UK’s second Investment Zone

  • The Liverpool City Region has been unveiled as England’s second Investment Zone, focused on Life Sciences 
  • Sites in Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton and St Helens could be set to benefit from £310m of private investment and more than 4,000 new jobs over the next five years. 
  • An initial £10m from a US pharmaceutical company to enhance its capabilities in manufacturing a drug used to treat cancers, arthritis and skin conditions 

Communities across the Liverpool City Region could be set to benefit from over 4,000 new jobs and a multi-million-pound investment in the life sciences sector as part of the UK’s second Investment Zone. 

The government has today (26 July 2023) launched England’s second Investment Zone in Liverpool City Region, which could unlock £320 million of private investment and deliver 4,000 jobs, across the Liverpool City Region over the next 5 years. 

An initial £10 million investment will be made by US pharmaceutical manufacturer TriRx, to enhance its capabilities to manufacture monoclonal antibodies, a type of immunotherapy that work by blocking certain diseases from affecting healthy cells and are used to treat numerous types of diseases including cancers, arthritis and skin conditions. 

This investment in the city region’s existing Speke Pharma cluster – home to one of the UK’s leading regions for bioprocessing – is the first step in unlocking a total pipeline up to £320 million of further private funding from a range of investors in the life sciences sector, helping to deliver over 4,000 jobs in the region over the next 5 years. 

Backed by £80 million in government funding, the Investment Zone will benefit from a range of interventions which could include skills, infrastructure and tax reliefs, depending on local circumstances – with the potential to make the Liverpool City Region a pharmaceutical production superpower. 

The health and life sciences sector already contributes an estimated £290m to the Liverpool City Region’s economy every year and Mayor Rotheram, has an ambitious target to invest 5% of its GVA to research and development – almost double the national target. 

Mayor Steve Rotheram, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, regional universities and other local partners will continue to work with the government to co-develop the plans for their Life Sciences Investment Zone, including agreeing priority development sites and specific interventions to drive cluster growth, over the summer, ahead of final confirmation of plans. 

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:  

“Our area is fortunate to play home to world-leading clusters in life science research and innovation, which support thousands of secure, well-paid jobs and training opportunities for local people. I am incredibly proud of what our region has achieved in the sector – but this is just a down payment on my future ambitions. I want us to go even further and establish our region at the forefront of UK science and innovation.

“With a potential £310m worth of investment and thousands of local jobs on offer, it is clear that this is an opportunity worth exploring. Yet, throughout this process, I have been clear that any investment in our area must go much further than purely financial incentives. I want to use our status as a force for good, to connect our residents up to secure, well-paid jobs and training opportunities, and attract transformational investment into our area.

“To play our part in making that happen, we will be investing 5% of GVA in R&D over the next few years – that is nearly double national targets. Becoming an innovation superpower  might sound like a lofty ambition – but I believe that if anywhere has the potential to achieve it, then it’s the Liverpool City Region.”

Mark Proctor, AstraZeneca Site Lead for Speke said: 

“AstraZeneca welcomes the establishment of the Liverpool City Region Investment Zone focussed on life sciences, which has the potential to attract more businesses to the region’s already thriving medicine development and manufacturing cluster.

We employ 400 people at our site in Speke to manufacture our intranasal influenza vaccine, used in the UK for the child and adolescent immunisation programme and exported to markets around the world.

The site has the potential to expand into new technology platforms for vaccines and we look forward to working with the Liverpool City Region to identify opportunities to develop these capabilities in the coming years.”

Tim Tyson, Chairman and CEO of TriRx, said: 

“We are delighted to be expanding our capability in this critical immunotherapy area, to become a worldwide centre of technical excellence located in the UK in the monoclonal antibody development and manufacturing field to serve the human and animal pharmaceutical markets”.

The Liverpool City Region Life Sciences Investment Zone will be developed alongside the city region’s freeport, which became operational earlier this year. 

By grouping high-productivity and innovative businesses close together, the freeport can play a role in the region’s work to tackle the underlying weaknesses in the local job market such as productivity, pay and job security. 

The region’s leaders have chosen to pursue businesses and industries that align with the values and priorities of the Combined Authority. These include innovation in advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and green energy – with a particular focus on the region’s target to be net zero carbon by 2040 at the latest and protections in place for both environmental standards and workers’ rights. 

Liverpool led way in reopening big cultural events

Liverpool researchers have authored a new study detailing definitive population-based evidence of risks of Covid-19 transmission around the early reopening of mass cultural events before restrictions were lifted.

Liverpool City Region hosted the world’s first regional cluster of experimental reopening of mass cultural events after Covid lockdowns as part of the UK Events Research Programme (ERP), including a business festival, two nightclubs (Circus’ First Dance) and a music festival (the Sefton Park Pilot).

All ticketholders were required to take a lateral flow test ahead of the events – a negative test would allow them access. Attendees were encouraged to take a PCR test on the day of the event, and a second one five days later, and gave consent for their routine NHS Covid testing data to be linked.

The analysis, published today (23 June 2023) in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, finds that of 12,256 individuals attending one or more events over 5 days, there were just 15 linked cases detected through research, public health and clinical testing using population-wide linked data.

Half of the cases were likely primary or secondary, reflecting transmission no higher than the background rate at the time, in contrast to a concurrent outbreak of more than 50 linked cases associated with a local swimming pool.

The key strengths of the study are its population-wide design and the realistic way the events were run. The Liverpool City Region was the first region in the world to introduce voluntary open-access asymptomatic testing, and used real-time linked data systems to study patterns of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and coordinate public health responses from November 2020 through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Liverpool’s Professor Iain Buchan, Principal Investigator for the Events Research Programme in Liverpool, said:

“Around the May Bank Holiday of 2021, the Liverpool City Region ran the world’s first experimental reopening of a realistic set of mass cultural events after COVID-lockdowns. We studied the feasibility and effects of risk-mitigations including supervised self-testing, contact-tracing and joint communications between event organisers and public health teams. The events were designed to be realistic, so mask-wearing was not compulsory. Out of 12,256 eventgoers there were 15 event-linked cases detected through research and routine NHS testing – no greater than background rates, which were low then – just before the Delta variant surged. The same surveillance system detected over 50 cases linked to a swimming pool in the area at the time, which did not have pre-attendance testing.”

He added:

“This public health initiative was a response to the social development and mental health needs of young people, who were last to be vaccinated, and among whom mental health referrals were rising. It was also a response to rising unemployment in the events and hospitality sector, and the importance of this sector for social wellbeing. Future pandemic recovery might take greater advantage of digital links between ticketing, events management, and public health systems, including testing and risk communications.”

The live links between different data sources, including events ticketing and public health testing were built by the Liverpool City Region Civic Data Cooperative (CDC), which is funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, and hosted by the University of Liverpool. The CDC is the UK’s first Civic Data Cooperative and was launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic to mobilise health-related data across the city region to improve the health and wellbeing of its residents.

Director of Culture Liverpool Claire McColgan CBE, said: 

“The Events Research Programme remains one of the most challenging projects I have ever been involved with and one that I’m incredibly proud of. At a time when restrictions were in place, we couldn’t mix indoors with family and friends, and mask wearing was the norm – Liverpool stepped up to be the focal point of a pilot project which would help shape national policy and breathe life back into the culture and leisure sector.

“This industry represents more than half of our local economy and it was in our interests to do everything we could to start to bring a sense of normality back. The eyes of the world were on us as we blazed the trail, and worked around the clock with the University, Government and event organisers to make each activity a safety success, and help unlock live events for the rest of the country.  And in terms of legacy, our learning from those projects has been invaluable, shaping how we now deliver major events, such as the highly-acclaimed Eurovision host city programme, and as a result are regarded as an exemplar of best practice in this field.”

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said:

“Being the first region in the country to reopen its hospitality and events sector in the midst of a global pandemic was no mean feat, yet we knew it was essential one – not only for our economic recovery, but for our collective wellbeing.

“While the rest of the world watched on, we worked with our world-leading scientists, researchers and our ethical Civic Data Cooperative, to safely reopen our visitor economy to the public. Few areas can claim to have made a bigger impact on global health than the Liverpool City Region – and it’s a legacy that we’re proud to be continuing today.”

Click here to read the full paper.

(Image credit: Blossoms Perform / Liverpool City Council)

Our work experience week at KQ Liverpool

Last week, Year 12 students Anthony, Harvey and Kostas undertook a week’s work experience with the KQ Liverpool team, and they have shared some insight into their time with us in the below blog:

Tell us a bit about yourself

  • Anthony: I have just come to the end of my first year of Sixth Form and I am studying Information Technology, Business Studies and Digital Media.
  • Harvey: I’m currently in Year 12 studying Business, IT and Drama.
  • Kostas: I have just come to the end of my first year in Sixth Form, and have been studying A Level Maths, Physics, Business and Religious Studies.

What have you been up to this week?

  • Anthony: This week we have been working as a Project Manager with Knowledge Quarter Liverpool. We have done various activities ranging from attending the ‘summer social’ event, to helping analyse potential improvements on a shuttle bus project encouraging travel to Paddington Village from Lime Street Train Station. 
  • Harvey: We visited the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and were given a tour around their Snakebite Research Centre, which has 400 of the most poisonous snakes, and were given an insight of how they act and also what types of poison are in the snakes. It was amazing to see some of the snakes up close and look at the little details of their scales and patterns on their bodies. We also made a TikTok about them.
  • Kostas:  We were out of the office practically everyday, doing something different and interesting each time showing that not all places of work need to be repetitive and tiring.

What has been a highlight for you?

  • Kostas: In terms of a particular thing that we did, the visit to Elida Beauty was really informative. As well as having a tour around the building and seeing how many of the products are made and tested, we had a talk with Alana Cox (Senior Scale Up Engineer) who gave us some amazing advice on how to stand out when it comes to CV writing and interviews. She also encouraged the use of LinkedIn which made us go and complete our profiles and make some connections.
  • Anthony: The realistic feeling of actually working in this job role has been a great experience for me as I have never really worked a role like this, and it has made me think deeper into wanting to potentially do this job or any other similar jobs like this in the future. 
  • Harvey: My highlight of the week has been making different connections and finding new jobs that I didn’t even know existed, as this gave me a wider range of options. I was also given information on how to improve my interview skills and also CVs. This was my highlight as it expanded my knowledge within different industries while also allowing me to expand my horizons and give better answers when it comes to interviews, while being able to write better and improved CVs.  

What have you learnt about Knowledge Quarter Liverpool?

  • Kostas: There is so much I did not know about the KQ before, like the fact it is an innovation district and a driver for innovation all over Liverpool. Some of the businesses they work with have some of the most exciting new projects and research.
  • Anthony: The Liverpool Knowledge Quarter is a hub of innovation and education located in the heart of Liverpool. The area is a vibrant and exciting place to be, with a range of cultural and social events taking place throughout the year. Whether you’re a student, a researcher, or an entrepreneur, there’s something for everyone in the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter.
  • Harvey: I have learnt that there’s a lot more to it that meets the eye. For example, there are multiple companies involved with KQ Liverpool and there’s a lot more opportunities than I once thought.

What advice would you give for other students going on work experience?

  • Anthony: Ask as many questions as possible to help you understand the pathway of a job role which will help you in the future, because if you end up wanting to do a similar job to your work experience, you will be prepared with what you need to do to meet the requirements of this job role. Also, try to make a good impression with employers in case they see you have skills and think you can undertake this job, as you may even get an offer to work and additional amount of time with the company.
  • Kostas: My advice for other students going on work experience is to make the most of all the opportunities given to you, like when you go out and meet people in the world of business make sure to be friendly and socialise with them, connect with them on LinkedIn to get access to even more opportunities in the future. I would also say to take the experience and reflect on it, think about what you liked and keep a mental note that this is something you would like to do in the future and if you did not like something keep that in mind too, it will all help narrow down a career that you enjoy later in life.
  • Harvey: I would also advise making connections with people during the work experience as this can also help you going forward with future jobs, as they may know a lot about an industry you are looking to go in and be able to lead you in the right direction. Also just have fun, as you won’t take away from the experience as much as you would if you weren’t enjoying it.

LCR signs landmark innovation deal with Busan

A landmark innovation deal was signed today that paves the way for greater co-operation between two of the world’s most famous port cities.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Park Heong-Joon, Mayor of Busan Metropolitan City in South Korea, aimed at enhancing ‘mutual understanding, prosperity and friendship’.

The five-year deal will see the two areas commit to active co-operation initially linked to innovation in digital, smart cities, clean energy and net zero, and health.

Busan is South Korea’s second city and the world’s fifth busiest port, serving as Korea’s biggest trading hub.

Under the MOU, the city regions will foster a strategic innovation partnership and promote science, education, trade and investment exchanges.

The Liverpool City Region is one of only four places selected to take part in the government’s UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme, delivered by Connected Places Catapult. The programme looks to leverage Liverpool’s world-class innovation ecosystem to drive international collaboration.


Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“As a region based around one of the world’s most famous port cities, our area has always been as an open and outward looking place.

“While our reputation for culture, music and sport may precede us on the global stage, we know that our unique strengths and assets in science, innovation and research are what continues to attract partners from around the world to want to work with us.

“I believe we have all the capabilities, assets – and the political will – to take our area to the forefront of UK science and innovation and take advantage of the many thousands of jobs and training opportunities it will bring to our area.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to strengthen our region’s ties with South Korea as we enter a new chapter in our partnership. Working together, I want to take advantage of our shared strengths and unique assets to build a stronger future for our areas and our people.”

Park Heong-Joon, Mayor of Busan Metropolitan City in South Korea said:

The city of Liverpool is amazing. I’ve been impressed that historical and contemporary features harmoniously coexist.

“Today’s MoU and the Innovative Twins project will become a catalyst to further bolster bilateral ties between the two port cities across various avenues from green technology, smart city, R&D, port regeneration, to culture.

“The two cities share much in common – not to mention, the two cities are home to great musicians, Beatles and BTS. I believe the cities have got huge potential to facilitate co-operation in the years to come and this will mutually benefit our people in the regions.

“And definitely more Koreans and Brits will visit each city more.”

Busan’s high-level visit includes representatives from Busan Techno Park and Busan Metropolitan Corporation and features tours of some of the city region’s world-class innovation facilities at Sci-Tech Daresbury, Glass Futures and Knowledge Quarter Liverpool, including the University of Liverpool’s Materials Innovation Factory and the Digital Innovation Facility.

The Liverpool City Region has been fostering stronger ties with Busan for more than a year, with active support from the UK Embassy in Seoul and the UK’s Connected Places Catapult, part of Innovate UK.

Senior officials from K-Water, the Korean state water corporation that operates the world’s largest tidal power scheme at Sihwa Lake, were in the Liverpool City Region last December to sign a deal to co-operate over development of the Mersey Tidal Power project – which has the potential to generate enough predicable, renewable energy to power up to 1 million homes for 120 years. The move followed initial contact at COP26 in Glasgow and a subsequent visit by a Combined Authority delegation to South Korea.

The region’s Innovation Prospectus, highlighting its world-class innovation and investment opportunities worth more than £12bn, was then translated into Korean – a move welcomed by the UK’s Ambassador to Korea, Colin Crooks, who hailed the city region as a ‘standout example’ of how UK regional authorities can develop international trade links.

Liverpool’s universities have also strengthened links with Busan and the Vice Chancellors of the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University and the Director of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have all met the South Korean delegation, as have the Science & Technology Facilities Council team located at Sci-Tech Daresbury, the primary northern hub for UK Research and Innovation.

UK Ambassador to South Korea, Colin Crooks, said:

With 2023 marking 140 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and the Republic of Korea, I am particularly pleased to see two of our most vibrant regions establishing closer links.

“The Liverpool City Region and the city of Busan are natural partners in so many ways. We look forward to continuing our support of this partnership and the civic, business and research cooperation opportunities that will be created.”

Connected Places Catapult’s Chief Executive, Nicola Yates OBE said:

“This Memorandum of Understanding between Liverpool City Region and Busan marks the start of a longer-term collaboration, to develop outcome based, sustainable relationships that deliver tangible projects of innovation collaboration, creating jobs and growth in both regions.

“The scale of the opportunity is large, with the potential to unlock new business and research opportunities for innovative companies, and cross-city learning. Connected Places Catapult is delighted to have helped make this happen.”

Have your say about the future of the Fabric District

Two public consultation events are being held in the Fabric District this month, to help shape plans for future development of this emerging and exciting area of Liverpool city centre.

Whether you live, work or visit Liverpool’s Fabric District, this is your opportunity to share what you think works well and what needs to be improved in the area.

The Fabric District CIC is holding two informal drop-in events to speak to residents and locals about the future of the area.

The public consultation sessions will take place on:

  • Wednesday 14th June, 3pm – 6pm at The Brain Charity, Norton Street, Liverpool
  • Thursday 15th June, 4pm – 7pm at Rusty’s Bar in the Tapestry building on Gildart Street, Liverpool

Please come along and share your thoughts – this is your chance to help shape the CIC’s vision for an exciting area we know has a brilliant future.

As well as an exhibition of plans and images to explain the past, present and potential future of the Fabric District, there will be free refreshments.

Feedback from the workshops will be used by the CIC to draft a Community Development Plan.

Michael Birkett, chair of the Fabric District CIC, said:

“The Fabric District is a key part of Liverpool city centre and the Knowledge Quarter and has a brilliant future ahead of it.

“There are key things that we know need to change and we are very keen to understand the views of local people, businesses, residents and visitors to ensure that we understand what people think works well and what people think should be improved.

“It would be great if you could come along and share your thoughts and views.”

The CIC’s board has been working closely with Liverpool City Council and the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) team to make sure the Fabric District is included in long term regeneration and public realm strategies for the city. Exciting recent developments we have welcomed include:

  • The opening of the new Radisson Red hotel on Lime Street
  • The retail and residential development for the Home Group on Monument Place
  • The resumption of construction work on the two student housing blocks on Norton Street
  • The completion of the ‘Innovo’ housing project on Devon Street
  • The recent planning consent for the conversion of TJ Hughes, keeping the original facades and towers
  • Continued investment and development at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and nearby Royal Liverpool Hospital
  • Ongoing investment in new facilities at all three of Liverpool’s universities, all being immediate neighbours of the Fabric District

Head to the Fabric District website to find out more: https://fabricdistrict.co.uk/

New Mental Health Research Centre is established in KQ Liverpool

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Liverpool have teamed up to create the first ever Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC), where service users co-design the innovations they need and want, alongside health professionals, researchers, industry partners, and public advisers.

The Centre will be awarded £10.5 million of government funding from the Office for Life Sciences and the National Institute for Health and Care Research. It is part of the national ‘Mental Health Mission’ which aims to accelerate mental health research through a UK network of leading investigators called the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration which includes M-RIC in Liverpool.

M-RIC will create a world first ‘learning system’ where treatments improve the more they are used, studied and refined. The focus will be on under-researched areas such as early intervention in psychosis, depression, and children and young people’s mental health. Research will underpin Liverpool City Region’s commitment to service users, providing easy access to clinical trials and increasing their involvement in better care, closer to home.

Professor Joe Rafferty CBE, Mersey Care’s Chief Executive, said:

“Investment in mental health research has huge potential to boost economic growth, reduce health inequalities, and address the associated £13bn per annum the UK economy loses in productivity to poor mental health.

“To improve mental health, the Centre will advance understanding of how mental, physical, and social conditions are interlinked, and trial new interventions with industry in real life settings.”

Professor Iain Buchan, the University of Liverpool’s Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, explained:

“Mental health is vital to us as individuals, families, and communities, yet despite advances in public health and healthcare, mental health has been declining, particularly in disadvantaged areas like Liverpool.

“Our Centre will have particular depth in mental health data science and engineering, driving innovations for a connected world – continuously improving as the research underpinning them is embedded in mental health services.”

The data-sharing required for the project will be facilitated by Liverpool City Region’s Civic Data Co-operative (CDC) which uses data to deliver better care for residents.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the health inequalities that exist in our society today – few more so than the extreme disparities in mental health support and funding. Coupled with the spiralling cost of living, it’s little surprise our country is now in the midst of a mental health crisis – which is costing the UK economy nearly £118bn every year.

“It’s one of the many reasons we invested in an ethical Civic Data Cooperative, to allow local experts to analyse our residents’ health and wellbeing needs and to help us improve care and service delivery locally.

“Our area has been a global leader in health research and innovation for centuries, and it’s fantastic to see this legacy continue today with the Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it helps us identify and explore new, improved ways to treat the mental health and wellbeing of our 1.6 million residents.”

Professor Nusrat Husain, Mersey Care’s Director of Research and Innovation, and Global Centre for Research on Mental Health Inequalities, added:

“The investment for innovation in mental health provides important opportunities to build upon our existing work to address mental health inequalities.

“For example digital technologies are helping to improve access to mental health services and becoming an important part of our clinical practice. These innovations in the way we deliver mental healthcare will not only have an impact on Liverpool City Region, but also nationally and globally.”